Q&A With Laurie Millane of Serenity By the Sea Cabins
It’s often said that people make the place, and we couldn’t agree more. Our new spotlight series introduces you to Seward Chamber of Commerce members who make our community an incredible place to live, work and play.
If you’re looking for tranquil black sand beaches and secluded cabins tucked away among tall trees, Thom and Laurie Millane’s Serenity by the Sea Cabins is the place to go. Perfect for couples, partners, friends or small families, they’ll also welcome your furry friends. Serenity by the Sea Cabins is one of the few family-owned lodging options open all year-round; they host adventurous Alaskans looking for a quiet getaway in the winter months.
We recently sat down with Laurie to learn more about the journey she has taken as a small business owner in Seward.
How long have you lived in Seward? What first brought you here?
Originally from Wisconsin, we came to visit our daughter, Stephanie, who works year-round for Sunny Cove Sea Kayaking in 2011. After several trips, we decided to buy some cabins for sale on Lowell Point. It took a lot of hard work from our family, including our daughter Stephanie and our son Thom Jr., our friends, and our significant partners, but we’ve created a place to call home and share with visitors from all over the world.
What makes your business special or unique? In other words, what are you known for?
Our biggest asset is our location on Lowell Point. People comment on how great it is to stay in our cozy, cute, little cabins under the Sitka spruce. It feels remote while still being close to town. It’s a short walk to the beach where we frequently see a variety of wildlife, and awesome trails add to the appeal. We are also one of the few lodging options in Seward that allows pets.
Tell us about a product or service that you’re particularly proud of.
The best reward for all of our hard work is hearing guests say how much they enjoyed their stay and that they want to come back. We also pride ourselves on keeping the cabins very clean and cozy. We strive to use organic cleaning products and organic/eco-friendly lodging supplies whenever possible.
What would people be surprised to learn about your business or your journey as a business owner?
We have always had family ties in Alaska but never had a plan to buy cabins in Alaska. However, when the opportunity arose we took it.
What advice would you give to a new business owner who is working to build a business like yours?
Pace yourself, make small improvements, and don’t try to do too much at one time. Always have money set aside for “emergencies” that will arise. Remember, in Alaska everything costs more and takes longer to get.
If your life was a book, what would the title be?
“Really? You’ve Got to Be Kidding!”
What is the best compliment your business has ever received?
There is no one compliment that stands out at the moment, but we are very proud of all our great reviews in Trip Advisor, Airbnb, and social networking channels. A favorite compliment is when our guests come back time and time again.
What do you like most about living and working in Seward?
Seward locals are one-of-a-kind; they made us feel like part of the community right away. The views and outdoor activities also can’t be beat with Kenai Fjords National Park at our doorstep. We love introducing our guests to all that Seward has to offer and share in their excitement.
Tell us about a community member in Seward who you admire.
There are so many locals committed to volunteering and making Seward great all year-round that it would be hard to single out one person. I guess if I had to choose one it would be my daughter, Stephanie. She has gone above and beyond to spearhead events and activities that bring tourism to Seward in the off-season. Her work developing Second Saturdays as part of the Seward Business Network has brought noticeable increases in winter tourism, which benefits all of Seward’s year-round small businesses. She’s currently organizing Twinklefest, which is sure to bring people to town during the holiday season. Her work to make Seward a year-round travel destination is admirable.
How do you spend your free time?
What is this free time you speak of, and where do I get some?
Where’s your favorite spot in Seward to unwind?
Strolling down Lowell Point Beach is always a great way to recharge.
There are so many great wilderness areas to explore around Seward and Kenai Fjords. If you had a free weekend, where would you go?
Feature Image: Nestled among towering Spruce Trees, the Aialik Glacier Cabin is a great place to unwind. Photo Courtesy of Laurie Millane.
For more information about Serenity By the Sea Cabins, click here or call 907.224.3635